‘Leftover women’ in China: Emotional advert challenges the pressure on single women to get married

China’s ‘leftover women’ stand up to societal pressures in this empowering advert.

Ryan Ramgobin
Tuesday 12 April 2016 12:45
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Emotional advert challenges the pressure on single women to get married

A new advert has been released challenging the traditional Chinese societal view that women should be married by the age of 25.

Those unmarried beyond this age are often stigmatised as ‘sheng nu’ - meaning ‘leftover women’.

The video begins with pressurising comments commonly heard by these women: you’re not a kid anymore; find someone to marry; I won’t die in peace until you’re married; don’t be so free-willed; she’s stubborn; and you’re too picky.

Emotional advert challenges the pressure on single women to get married

A single woman starring in the advert says Chinese New Year is the most stressful time.

“Everyone will be asking you – how old are you? Why are you not married? You’re no longer young.”

“People think that in Chinese society, an unmarried woman is incomplete. You feel like an outsider.”

A particularly uncomfortable moment in the advert is a parent speaking about her daughter’s singledom while she is present in the room.

“We always thought our daughter had a great personality. She’s just average looking. Not too pretty. That’s why she’s leftover.”

Emotional advert challenges the pressure on single women to get married

The advert features Shanghai’s marriage market which is a forum for parents to post their sons’ and daughters’ details in an attempt to find them a partner.

The video culminates in the ‘leftover women’ delivering a personal message to their parents at the marriage market.

Their profiles do not feature their age or income but defiant quotes like: “I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage. I won’t live happily that way.”

The parents emotionally accept their daughters’ wishes, with one commenting that “the ‘leftover women’ are outstanding. The ‘leftover men’ need to try harder!”

The advert was created by beauty brand SK-II and it has been viewed over 1.5 million times.

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